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White Nectarine, Ginger and Hazelnut Upside Down Cake

I love this cake as it’s so easy to make. It’s yet another cake based on stone fruit and a kind of frangipane mix, this time using ground hazelnuts.

You can make it with apricots, peaches and plums. And as it’s an upside down cake you get to see the lovely fruit on top of the cake!

Oh, and it’s all done in the food processor. Labour non intensive!

Ingredients

150g butter

150g sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

3 free range eggs

100g plain flour

100g hazelnut meal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 white nectarines, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon of stem ginger pieces, sliced thinly (5-6 pieces)

3 teaspoons demerara sugar

Method


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Grease a 22 cm springform tin.

Beat butter and sugar in a food processor until pale and well creamed. Add vanilla paste.

Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and ground ginger mix at the same time with each egg. Mix in the food processor until each egg is incorporated. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients by pulsing carefully.

Arrange the nectarine slices in the springform tin in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping. Place the ginger slices in between the nectarine slices. Spread over the cake batter, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the mixture with the demerara sugar.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil to prevent burning.  When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully invert the cake onto a plate to serve.

Blueberry Oat Scones

I’m a big fan of Claire Ptak and her bakery in London. It was a delight to visit last time I was able to travel to the UK, pre Covid! I love her book “The Violet Bakery Cookbook”, and some of the recipes in it have inspired this one.

These tasty morsels are a cross between scones and biscuits. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish scones. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial scones.

Ingredients 
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
1/2 baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries 

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat scones are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Orange Zest Shortbread

I made this shortbread for New Year’s Day yesterday. I think shortbread is one of the best things to come out of Scotland, not forgetting whisky!

It’s based on a Jamie Oliver recipe for chocolate orange shortbread, original recipe here. I left out the chocolate for simplicity’s sake, but by all means add this in. I think the orange is the star of this recipe!

It’s super simple. I made it in the food processor. After baking just leave in the tin before cutting into fingers.

Great for New Year – but don’t wait till then – a very nice tea time or coffee time treat any time of the year!

Ingredients

150g butter at room temperature

200g plain flour

50g golden caster sugar or raw sugar, plus extra to sprinkle

Zest of an orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking paper.

Put the butter, flour, sugar and the finely grated zest of half the orange into the bowl of a food processor.

Gently pulse the ingredients until they just come together- don’t overmix.

Tip the mixture into the lined baking tin. With your hands pat the dough into the tin, being careful not to knead it. You will end up with a layer about 1cm thick. Don’t worry if it’s looks a bit messy, it will look fine after baking.

Prick the dough all over with a fork.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

Take out of the oven, and leaving in the tin, mark fingers using a sharp knife. There’s no need to cut through – it’s just to help cut the fingers once the shortbread is cold.

Sprinkle over a little more sugar, and grate over the zest of the other half of the orange.

Leave to cool completely, and then cut the shortbread into fingers along the marked lines.

Remove the fingers from the tin.

The shortbread will keep well in an airtight tin for a few days!

Speculaas Biscuits

St Ncholas Day was 6 December – so I’m a little late in posting this recipe for these delicious spicy biscuits, traditionally made for that day. But they are also eaten anytime during the Christmas season.

They are so fragrant with Christmas spice, and they make perfect edible gifts. Making them really puts you in the Christmas mood too!

This recipe is based on one I found from the brilliant people at SBS television here in Australia. You really need to stamp designs on them, and I have a couple of heavy duty Nordic ware stamps. I also have a fabulous maamoul mold, a traditional Middle Eastern pastry and biscuit mold. You put biscuit dough inside the maamoul, then turn the dough out with a lovely imprint.

But you could just as easily use any biscuit cutters.

The recipe called for a mixture of Christmas spices but I used a St Nicholas Spekulaas spice mix from Gewürzhaus Spice House in Sydney. I have included the ingredients for the individual spices as well as the pre-prepared mix.

Ingredients

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

150g firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ginger and cardamom

(Or 1 tablespoon St Nicholas Spekulaas spice mix)

1/4 teaspoon salt

150g cold butter

Method

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, spices, salt and butter in a food processor and whiz until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.

Add a tablespoon of iced water and pulse until mixture just comes together. Do this carefully – don’t overmix!

The dough will be quite loose. Turn it out onto a board or bench top and bring together into a large ball. Wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm the dough and make it easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll the dough out – don’t go too thin or it will be hard to cut – and use any kind of biscuit cutter to stamp out shapes. Or if you have biscuit stamps or a maamoul mold use those!

Place the biscuits on the baking trays. Roll out any scraps of dough again and stamp out more shapes. Refrigerate the trays for 20 minutes to help the biscuits keep their shape.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. These biscuits are quite soft in the middle so they won’t bake hard.

Once cool enough to handle, remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store biscuits in an airtight container for a week, or you can freeze the biscuits too!

Yoghurt Rosewater Cake

This is my absolute go-to cake when I’m looking for something special and really easy!

I’ve posted versions of it twice before – but I was so pleased with this latest incarnation that I just had to write about it again.

I’ve simplified the cake through many bakes, and this latest version doesn’t t even need icing!

Give it a go if you’re looking for a cake that is fragrant, moist, with a delicate crumb, cuts well, keeps well and eats spectacularly!

Ingredients
250ml canola or vegetable oil
330g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
280g Greek yoghurt
300g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons rosewater

To serve – icing sugar and fresh or dried rose petals, whipped cream and Greek yoghurt

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour a large Bundt mould or a 22cm cake tin.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Pulse in the yoghurt, followed by the flour. Stir in the rosewater.

Pour the mixture into the bundt mould or the regular cake tin.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Just make sure you keep checking with a skewer for “doneness” after 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, sieve over some icing sugar, about a couple of tablespoons, and fill the centre with a few tablespoons of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt – or all cream, or all yoghurt. Your choice!

You can ice this cake, as I have done in previous versions, but it’s so elegant and pretty baked in a Bundt mould, it doesn’t really need it!

Yoghurt Rosewater Cake

This is my absolute go-to cake when I’m looking for something special and really easy!

I’ve posted versions of it twice before – but I was so pleased with this latest incarnation that I just had to write about it again.

I’ve simplified the cake through many bakes, and this latest version doesn’t t even need icing!

Give it a go if you’re looking for a cake that is fragrant, moist, with a delicate crumb, cuts well, keeps well and eats spectacularly!

Ingredients
250ml canola or vegetable oil
330g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
280g Greek yoghurt
300g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons rosewater

To serve – icing sugar and fresh or dried rose petals, whipped cream and Greek yoghurt

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour a large Bundt mould or a 22cm cake tin.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Pulse in the yoghurt, followed by the flour. Stir in the rosewater.

Pour the mixture into the bundt mould or the regular cake tin.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Just make sure you keep checking with a skewer for “doneness” after 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, sieve over some icing sugar, about a couple of tablespoons, and fill the centre with a few tablespoons of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt – or all cream, or all yoghurt. Your choice!

You can ice this cake, as I have done in previous versions, but it’s so elegant and pretty baked in a Bundt mould, it doesn’t really need it!

Walnut and Sour Cherry Sourdough

I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.

However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.

Ingredients

425g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

300g water

10g salt

75g walnuts

75g sour cherries

50g raisins or golden raisins

Method

Mix
Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.

Autolyse
Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.

Knead and Prove
Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.

Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.

Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.

Pre-shape
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shape
It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.

Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.

Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.

Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

Second Prove
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.

Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.

Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.

Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.

Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.

Passionfruit Mini Cakes

These little cakes are full of passionfruit in the cake mix and in the icing. I love the fragrance and flavour of passionfruit. I will buy them up while cheap and freeze the pulp – great when I want to make a passionfruit sponge or these little cakes!

Cooking with buttermilk gives a great flavour to cakes so that’s what I used here. You can make cheat’s buttermilk if you haven’t any on hand by simply adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk, or even lime juice. You now have a pretty good substitute!

Here is the recipe for these passionfruit mini cakes. You can make them in fancy molds as I did or make them in an ordinary muffin tin.

Ingredients

Cakes

200g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk 0r cheat’s buttermilk ( I added the juice of half a lime to regular milk)

Pulp from 4 passionfruit

Passionfruit Icing

250g icing sugar, sifted

Pulp from 2 passionfruit + 1 passionfruit for the optional fondant icing

1 tbs passionfruit fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cakes

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees non fan forced.

You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. The cakes pictured were baked in my Silverwood three tier muffin molds. I buttered and floured these molds. You can use any standard 12 cup muffin tin. Line the muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the pasionfruit pulp in a food processor and blitz till smooth.  Stir the passionfruit pulp into the batter.

Spoon the mixture into the molds or paper cases. If you’re using fancy molds like mine you will get 6 sizeable cakes. Using a regular muffin tin,  you will get 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top. Check after 15 minutes, by seeing if a skewer inserted comes out clean. They may need a couple of minutes longer.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin tin for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Ice with a generous amount of passionfruit icing, letting it drip down the sides of the cakes.

Passionfruit Icing

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

Optional –  I mixed a tablespoon of passionfruit fondant creme (warmed gently in the microwave for a minute or two) with the pulp of 1 passionfruit. This made a very yellow icing which I drizzled on top of of the other icing. More for effect than anything else!

Halloween Soul Cakes

This year I baked my Soul Cakes early to be ready for Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. They were traditionally made to be handed out on these special days.

“The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, 

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul, 

And three for Him that made us all.”

The little cakes are actually more like biscuits, and are delicious as they are full of spice and sultanas. They have a cross marked on the top too.

This batch of Soul Cakes are a little rough and ready! But taste great because of the spices.

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened 

100g caster sugar 

2 free-range egg yolks 

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron (or more if necessary)

Zest of an orange

2 tbs milk 

100g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy.

Sift the flour and spices, including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or until you want to bake the cakes.

Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake.

Great eaten warm straight from the oven. The soul cakes can be frozen too, but eat on the traditional days if possible!

Crumpets!

I have been making crumpets this week. They are such a great breakfast staple and a lovely afternoon tea treat.

I used my buttermilk crumpets recipe as I had some beautiful buttermilk from Pepe Saya, the Australian experts on all things dairy cultured! The link to their website is here.

So I thought I would revisit that recipe as well as my sourdough crumpets recipe. The buttermilk recipe is very easy to do as it uses commercial yeast. The sourdough recipe is fantastic, but you do need a sourdough starter on hand.

So here are the links to both recipes.

Buttermilk crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2018/11/17/buttermilk-crumpets-for-breakfast/

Sourdough crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/01/16/sourdough-starter-crumpets/

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